Today she can be found in The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz as a member of The Ritz, but Melissa Hamilton began her singing career in her elementary school auditorium, singing the National Anthem at first grade assemblies. It wasn’t until college that she discovered jazz, when she heard Ella Fitzgerald sing.

In 1987, after studying with the renowned jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan, Melissa was invited to join The Ritz, a vocal ensemble celebrated for its tight harmonies and inventive arrangements. In addition to touring the globe and playing some of the world’s most notable venues and jazz festivals in Europe, Asia, and North America, Melissa recorded four albums with The Ritz on the Denon label – Movin’ Up (1988), Flying (1989), The Spirit of Christmas (1989) and their final album, Almost Blue (1991), which she also produced.

Melissa has appeared at some of the city’s leading venues, including The Blue Note, Fat Tuesdays, J's, Metropolitan Room, Cornelia Street Cafe, Jazz at Kitano and Iridium, where she recorded many of the tracks for her first solo CD, Live Songs and Love Songs (2012).

Melissa has opened for Billy Taylor at the Bright Moments Jazz Festival and performed with many distinguished jazz musicians including Doc Cheatham, Grady Tate, Frank Wess, Harvie Swartz, Michael Kanan, Victor Gaskin, and Gene Perla. She toured as a backup singer with acclaimed Chicago blues guitarist, David Bromberg.

Melissa enjoys sharing her love of music and jazz. She taught at her alma mater, the University of Maine, for eight years and serves as a clinician and adjudicator for high school and college jazz programs. In 1996, she received the University of Maine’s Distinguished Achievement Award and was honored to speak at its commencement exercises. She was a finalist in both the 2009 Jazzmobile Vocal Competiton and the 2015 HotHouse Magazine Fan's Decision Contest.